Monthly Archives: June 2013

Knowing Sadness

In many ways my life is better than ever.  I am creating something wonderful.  I’ve much to be grateful for and have so much love in my life.  Children, a handful of good friends and a wonderful family.  I’m doing a good job battling my cocaine addiction (over 20 years clean) and have faced the darkness of my past sexual abuse.  I’m listening to myself, trusting myself, learning to love myself.   I am more confident in my abilities to care for myself and know that from today onward  I can see some of my wildest dreams come true.   So why the sadness?

I was beating myself up over feeling it.  I was denying it and pushing it down.  Trying to run from it and hide from it.  I’d almost convinced myself that it was not there…that it was not real.  How wrong I was.

Sadness is acceptable.  I am entitled to feel and express it.  In my quiet moments, when no one else is around, I allow myself to cry.  The tears quickly turn into sobs that come from a place so deep that sometimes I wonder if I will ever stop.  I hurt.  I am hurting so badly from the pain of loss…of broken promises….of abandonment.

I am so grateful to know…to really KNOW…that this is temporary.  That I need to grieve the loss as a part of my journey.  I am grateful for the knowledge and experience that has shown me time and again that these moments of sadness are to be acknowledged and allowed.  I know that I am going to be okay.

Unfortunately there are many who do NOT know this.  Their sadness feels like it will never leave them.  It overwhelms and permeates every moment of every day.  These are the people who fall into depression and sometimes never recover.  I ask that you look around and take a moment to really see the people in your life.  Be still with them and listen to the silence.  Lend a hand, an ear, a shoulder.  Just connect.  I’ve lost three family members to suicide.   I wish I’d known then what I know now.

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I’m living now

Age 5-7 – sexually abused by a trusted neighbour over a period of about two years.

Age 8 –  I suffer my first major panic attack.  I have no idea what the f**k it is that is happening other than it feels horrible and I am sure that I am going to die.  Bedtime scares the crap out of me…I am convinced that I will forget how to breath.

I suffered from horrific panic attacks as well as serious depression for many, many years.  I saw many doctors and shrinks and they all treated the problems that I told them about.  No one cracked the case though.  All the many years  of talking to professionals and not one of them ever asked if I’d been sexually abused as a young child and I sure as hell wasn’t going to say anything.  I’d talk about the rape when I was 13, the abusive marriage, the self-destructive behaviours and addictions but what that man did to me when I was in kindergarten and grade one was a conversation I was NOT having.  No f**king way.

There was one psychiatrist who wanted to admit me to the hospital for an addiction recovery program but I declined.  After all, I had just left an abusive marriage, was not using, had a part time job and had two children to care for.  How on earth could I ever find the time to go for treatment?  How could I burden my mom with caring for my sons?  How would I ever be able to pay my rent without the income from my job?  It would just be so selfish of me.  I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I would be fine.  (ya right…)

So the doctors diagnosed…labels were attached and treatments and medications administered.  There were mood, anxiety, personality, addiction and adjustment disorders.  Sometimes together and sometimes on their own.  I’d go for years without help and simply look after myself.  After all – I was coping.  I had a family to support and a career to manage.  Not one single person knew what was going on deep inside.  No one knew the root cause.

I was not living.  I was simply coping.

I am sharing this information with you because there is a HUGE cost to society when a child is sexually abused.  The children grow into adults with high rates of chronic depression, higher rates of suicide, substance abuse, higher incidences of rape, abusive relationships and all flavours of mental illness.  Many of us do not disclose.  We dismiss it.  We pretend and we fool ourselves into thinking we have dealt with it.  Until the day that we just can’t cope anymore and we ‘hit the wall’.  The secret gets spilled or we spill our guts in some form or another.  It’s never pretty.

When I finally disclosed – it was 42 years after the first instance.  FORTY-TWO YEARS of carrying so much shame and self-loathing.  Years of functioning but not living.  Years of numbing pain with cocaine and alcohol.  Years of hiding from the world but mostly from myself.

It’s scary for me sometimes.  I still get panic attacks.  I often have triggers that can throw me to places that I’d rather not revisit.  PTSD is part of my life.  Shame still threatens to cloud my view of myself and major depressive episodes visit me from time to time.  Thankfully, I now know that it is ok.  A panic attack WILL pass.  A trigger is not reality – it is my brain playing tricks.  Depressive episodes will often reveal something of great beauty.  And I have made a choice to do something with ‘all of this’.

Voice Found is how I choose to take action and do something to help prevent other children from having their innocence taken.  Voice Found is how I choose to take action to find support for adult survivors.

I’m living now.